Why Writing Romantic Fiction with Mature Characters

Ever since I’ve been through all the Pippi Longstockings, the Karl May books (a German-style Western for youngsters), and matured through the rest of our tiny island’s library, I’ve been reading romance novels. I devoured them all my life.

Until a few years ago. I got bored with the flawless, beautiful, size ten, gorgeous, fashionable and funkily dressed young heroine. Yes, I remember those times… not very well anymore, but yes, I’ve been there, done that, and got the stretch marks to prove it. But no matter how hard I try, I can’t relate to these young girls anymore. And I would like to identify with the heroines I’m reading about and get lost in their worlds before I contemplate what to cook for dinner tonight. Continue reading “Why Writing Romantic Fiction with Mature Characters”

Books Can Change Lives

It took me years to find the books that changed my life in ways, nothing else has. I was a young mother with a 3 months old baby (said baby is today 44 years old) and had to seek refuge from a howling snowstorm with an older friend of the family. I still remember the scarcely furnished guest room. Over the bed, a little bookshelf was the only adornment in the room. I grabbed a book and read Breakfast at Six by Mary Scott. In German mind you, Mary Scott was famous in Germany! Go figure.

Our friend had a few more of her books and was friendly enough to let me borrow them. I loved the humorous stories of the life on a farm in the New Zealand backwaters. And forgot about it.  Continue reading “Books Can Change Lives”

Whispers Of Love: Baby Boomers Don’t Give Up

So, the third book in my Golden Series is now available on pre-order. If you want to know how Claudia is getting on with a ten-year-old orphan she’s taken under her wings, make sure you get a copy of WHISPERS OF LOVE. After the 20th of November, the price will return back to ‘normal’.

Life is what happens while you’re making other plans…

Connor Anderson leads a charmed life and knows exactly where he’s going. Men want to be him, women want to be with him, and Hollywood simply wants him. When he crashes his car in the backwaters of New Zealand on his way to the location of his newest film, it’s just an inconvenience. Right? Continue reading “Whispers Of Love: Baby Boomers Don’t Give Up”

Movie Monday: Letters To Juliet

It’s cold and rainy and windy in Wellington. The temperature inches barely into the two digits. So it makes perfect sense–to me–to watch a movie set in one of my favourite regions: Tuscany/Italy. Seeing the red Fiat with Claire, Sophie, and Charley drive along country roads studded with slender cypress trees… ahh. Is there anything more beautiful?

Maybe the scene almost at the end, when the whole family sits around a large rustique dining table in the lush Tuscan garden beats the car scene. It’s hard to pick because the views of Tuscany, Siena, and Verona are simply stunning. Trust me on this: the movie is worth seeing for the scenery alone. Continue reading “Movie Monday: Letters To Juliet”

Movie Monday: Blue Lagoon – Paradise Lost

I love the movie BLUE LAGOON. I can’t remember when I saw it first, all I know is, we have it on our hard drive with Dutch subtitles. I must have recorded it on one of the old monster VCRs when we went to live in the Netherlands. My kids and I used to watch it on cold, rainy days. It was our ‘bad weather go to movie’. How often did we watch it? Your guess is as good as mine, but cold, rainy days were easy to come by in Holland and in New Zealand, where we moved to in 1988. Continue reading “Movie Monday: Blue Lagoon – Paradise Lost”

Love Reading Romance? Become an Advanced Reader

Doesn’t it sound exciting, being an Advanced Reader? Until a few month ago I had no idea what that meant. Advanced Readers are people who get a FREE copy of a soon to be released novel and once they’ve read it, they give a review/feedback to the author.

So here I am looking for about ten people who would like to be part of my Advanced Reader group. If that is an interesting proposition for you,

I’d love you to put your name down HERE

As thanks, I’ll send everyone who puts her or his name down a signed paperback copy of my non-fiction book DELICIOUS MIND BODY AND SOUL, which is a combination of life-wisdom and healthy smoothies.

 

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Bonds of Love: A Summer Read

I like to know how things start. Context for me is like a scaffolding any story is hanging on, whether it’s the story about how I found my new pair of shoes or any other story. In fact, my family accuses me of starting with Adam&Eve every time I tell a story. I’ll never understand their exasperationtGolden Girl Series - High Resolution - A Prequel.

It was only logical to write the Adam&Eve bit for my GOLDEN GIRLS series. After finishing the first two of my Golden Girls books, I NEEDED to know how they became such good friends whose friendship lasted over thirty years. That’s a pretty amazing achievement, don’t you agree?

When readers asked me how it all started, I had the best excuse to go back in time and peak into the student flat of Anna, Thea, Claudia, and Christine.

 So go ahead and get your copy of Bonds of Love: The Prequel of the Golden Girls series. It’ll be FREE to a good home for a while.

You can order it here: https://www.instafreebie.com/free/V28fg

 

 

 

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Book Launch Party: A TUSCAN AFFAIR

I’m having a bit of a party to celebrate the launch of my debut novel A TUSCAN AFFAIR. Romance fans who are in Wellington on that day, are welcome to join us for a good time.

 

A TUSCAN AFFAIR, the first of four books in the GOLDEN GIRLS Series. Four long-time friends are faced with life changing decisions. As so often happens, life throws some serious obstacles their way but being strong Kiwi women, they don’t cower in fear. Instead, they meet those challenges head-on.

 

With the help of each other, they answer the age-old question: Do we quietly sit back and grow old or is there still one more adventure waiting for us? One more love?

Each one of the four friends has a book to her name. A TUSCAN AFFAIR is Anna’s story.

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A Tuscan Affair

Book excerpt: A Tuscan Affair

 

Anna froze and held her breath.

One glance at the two men Mackenzie led into her office unsettled her trademark cool composure. How many years had she fantasised that he’d walk through her door? But not after over thirty years! Her knees trembled, and then, like a deep-sea diver who’d been too long under water, she came up for air and took a deep, gasping breath.

Did he recognise her? That would not do. She ignored the flutter in her chest. This was not an occasion for fluttering. As one of Auckland’s leading lawyers, she had enough experience and self-control to deal with the appearance of a mistake from a long time ago. She schooled her face and closed the door behind them.

“Good morning. I’m Anna King. Please, take a seat.” Without a smile of recognition, she kept her voice cool and detached. Not by accident was she known as the Ice Queen, an image that took years to perfect. She motioned the two men to the group of chairs in front of a modern fireplace and picked a seat opposite them.

The older of the two said “Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Francesco Falcone and this is my son, Antonio. He came all the way from Tuscany to help me with my divorce.” She could relate to the pride and joy in the father’s voice. “Your colleague Mark Peterson handles my business affairs and said you would be the best lawyer to take on my divorce.” He smiled at Anna. “Your colleague is an ardent admirer of you.”

“That’s very kind of him.” So, Antonio was his name? Call me amore mio, he’d told her thirty-four years ago. That blissful night his soft whisperings were enough for her. She didn’t have a need for a name.

It was he, wasn’t it? Could she be mistaken? She, the lawyer who never made mistakes? Although no longer the sun-tanned young man with the body of a Roman God in red swim shorts, he looked the picture of sophistication in his expensive, tailored suit. His short, black hair showed a titillating dusting of grey at his temples.

There was no doubt. Back in nineteen-eighty-two he swept into her life like a force of nature, and, like the outgoing tide, vanished from her life the following day when she boarded the train to Rome. Now he stood in her office with no signs of recognition! She couldn’t very well ask whether he remembered their night at the beach around the bonfire. It wouldn’t be professional to bring up the past. She took a deep breath and looked up from the folder in her hand, calling herself to order.

“I’m having coffee; may I offer you each a cup as well?” The situation called for a coffee, an extra strong one. She rose and walked over to her desk. Both nodded and Antonio held up two fingers.

“Two espressos, black, each two sugars. Thank you.”

She switched on the intercom and relayed the order to Mackenzie, her assistant. Then it hit her.

Lucca.

It would be a disaster if Lucca came to work this morning. She shuddered and switched on the intercom again. “Please, call my son and tell him, he doesn’t have to come into the office this morning. I’ll meet him at court.”

On the way back to her chair, she caught her image in the antique mirror next to her bookshelves. Her reflection showed no signs of the young careless girl with a backpack and sandals, who danced around bonfires with her gypsy skirt and an infectious zest for life. Though the years have been kind to her, even with the lines around the eyes and her mouth. Not bad for fifty-six. She straightened her shoulders and joined the Falcones again.

Mackenzie entered the office. Balancing three cups on a tray, she passed the coffee to them and asked, “Is that all?”

“Thanks, Mackenzie. I’ll call you if we need anything else.”

They sipped their coffee until Antonio broke the silence. “Pardon me, have we met? I have a strong sense we know each other, but I can’t…” his voice trailed off and he squinted his eyes, scrutinising her.

Acting on impulse never served her well, so she dipped her head to the right and looked at him, as if trying to find a memory to fit him in.

“Not that I recall.”

He came much too close for comfort. Their situation was not like two acquaintances enjoying a reunion after many years. It was much more complex and required a well thought through strategy. She turned to Francesco.

“Would you mind telling me about the circumstances that led to the divorce proceedings? I’ll then be able to devise a strategy for us to go forward.”

Antonio Falcone glanced at her in disbelief. She would bet a month’s salary he usually had women laying at his feet instead of being dismissed with four simple words.

His father folded his hands on the table. “Angelica is a New Zealander. She came to our vineyard as part of an organised tour and bought a few boxes of our best wine. I delivered them to her hotel and the rest is history. We were happy, you know, even though she’s thirty-five years younger than I!” His voice softened, and he swallowed, recalling better times, no doubt.

Francesco’s struggle touched her. He told the story of their marriage like a rehearsed script he had gone over many times to find where things went astray between him and his much younger wife. He fought to control his emotions when his son barged in.

“Angelica is a gold digger. There is no doubt. She told my father she wanted a divorce with no prior indication she was unhappy in their marriage.” He huffed, and his voice turned bitter. “Why would she? She’s lived the life of a princess. I want you to set an investigator onto her and do a thorough background check. I bet there is more to the story. Why file for divorce now?”

His attitude showed all the signs of someone used to command and having people at his beck and call. He’d figured it all out and expected her to jump. She suppressed the urge to grin. He’d soon find out she’s walking to her own sweet drums and nobody else’s.

“You’re welcome to hire a private investigator. Ask him to send a copy of his report to my office.” She hoped she smiled without too much of a smirk.

Francesco cleared his throat. “You’ve to excuse my son. He’s used to commandeering people and doesn’t know when to stop. What he meant to say is, we would love if you would contract one of your trusted investigators to look into Angelica’s circumstances. Her request for a divorce came out of the blue. Nobody can make sense of it.”

“I’d be happy to do that for you. Please forward any correspondence you had so far with your wife or her lawyer regarding the divorce.” She then finished her coffee and collected the notes she made. “This is an excellent beginning and gives me lines of inquiry to pursue. Can you think of anything else we need to discuss?” She checked her calendar. “If not we can meet again Friday this week, at the same time. By then I’ll have a strategy ready for you.”

Anna closed the door behind the men and sank into her chair. Tears welled up. She wrapped her arms around herself. Thirty-four years. Fate had a cruel way of interfering with her life and reminding her of times she’d rather kept buried.

When the first tears pearled down her face, accompanied by little sobs, she bit her fist to stop the scream building inside her.

Mackenzie entered Anna’s office. “Lucca asked me to tell you…Anna! Oh dear!” She stood next to Anna’s chair and put her hand on Anna’s back. With a soft voice, Mackenzie said, “That…was the twin’s father, wasn’t it? They look so much like him.”

Anna pulled herself up, took a deep breath and gazed at her assistant. “Yes, but you can’t breathe a single word about it to anyone.”

The Secret Weapon in Relationships: Kindness

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As you may know, I have written a little book about relationships and how to make them work. Over about 60 pages I have-in one way or other-emphasized the importance of kindness. Basically pointing out that if you bring kindness to your relationships, be they intimate ones, work relationships, friendships, or those with family members, you have a great recipe for lasting, loving, relationships.

A friend gave me her feedback the other day, which made me stop and think. Besides some very well-meant comments about grammar and flow issues that could benefit from improvements, she said it offers “surface insight into solutions to very complex problems”. That puzzled me. As if loving kindness is a ‘too simple’ solution for complex relationship problems.

Whoever says that ‘kindness’ is simple hasn’t grasp the depth of insight and high level of awareness it takes to practice kindness. If it were easy to be kind, if kindness were the main driving emotion/attitude people have with each other, we would not have criticism, judgment, hate, wars, violence. It requires humility, love, and seeing the good in the other person rather than looking for shortcomings. “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt (painting above) symbolizes this point perfectly!

I know for myself how often I am unkind, when my ego gets in the way, when I am thoughtless, when I can’t be bothered with other people’s needs, when the inside voice in me won’t be silenced and shouts “What about me!!!!”, and lastly, when I am unkind with myself!

No, being kind is not easy. We all admire Mandela, Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama as they show us the meaning of non-violence, of kindness. Very few people master that level of kindness and love. You can test it for yourself by being highly focused for one day to be kind to yourself and others…and notice when you are not! I would love to hear from you how that experiment went!

So if you want to spruce up your valentines day with a simple, easy solution to relationship problems, go and buy my book Delicious Love Forever: Recipes for lasting, loving relationships  either on kindle or a hard copy, or read it for free on ‘kindle unlimited’. It gives you simple concepts – but don’t be fooled, they take a lot to put into practice!

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/oilpainting-gallery/4187152134/